posted on: 8/4/2017 11:11:41 AM
Health & Fitness Guest Columnist
Lorina Zenz, CNP
Lima Memorial Physicians
Lima Memorial Internal Medicine & Family Healthcare
Primary care is where preventative medicine takes place. It is the job of your primary care provider or family doctor to help you prevent illness or disease from occurring. Your health and well-being is our number one priority. Our goal is to protect you from disease, promote and maintain your good health and prevent disability or even death. Preventative medicine involves many things from the simple to the complex and from the young to the elderly.
As a primary care provider, it is my responsibility to manage my patients’ chronic medical conditions and provide information and education on how to prevent chronic illness. This is accomplished through resources and one-on-one teaching about healthy lifestyle choices and preventative screenings.
Starting with the very young, well-child examinations are vital to ensure the child is growing and developing as a normal child should. As a primary care provider, I measure developmental milestones with each year of age. These exams occur from the time the child is born until the adolescent becomes an adult at 18 years of age. Vision and hearing screening as well as immunizations are an important part of preventing disease and keeping children well. Dental screenings are essential to prevent cavities and other more serious mouth issues. Parents are educated on the proper nutrition, activities and healthy habits that will help children learn and grow. This is where prevention starts! Teaching children good healthy habits now prevents them from becoming obese, having type 2 diabetes, joint problems, cavities and many other ailments. Mental health screenings are also performed as children grow and become more like adults during their middle and high school years.
Young adults are the next area of focus for preventative medicine. Similar to children, hearing and vision screenings are performed and good dental health habits are encouraged by keeping regular checkups. Immunizations continue with young adults to include HPV, meningitis, TDAP and annual flu vaccines. Sexually transmitted disease screenings and PAP smears begin with young adults. Educating young adults on alcohol, tobacco and drugs continues. Many aspects of safety to prevent accident or injury are discussed as well. All of the education provided to children continues into adulthood, with emphasis on issues like diet, exercise and avoiding risky behaviors.
Middle age is another very important era where preventative medicine continues to build. In addition to the preventative topics already shared, patients now become more regularly engaged with regard to routine check-ups to monitor weight, blood pressure and blood work to screen for high cholesterol or even thyroid issues. Mammograms to screen for breast cancer, PSA levels / prostate exams to screen for prostate cancer, PAP smear exams for cervical cancer screening and annual immunizations are done. Chest x-rays and low dose CT scans of the lungs are completed for smokers and smoking cessation options are discussed and encouraged. Screening for alcohol abuse is involved as well.
As we continue to age and approach our senior years of life, preventative medicine remains crucial. Pneumonia and shingles vaccine are very important in this age group as these immunizations can help prevent these infections from occurring or reduces the severity if they do occur. In addition, DEXA scans to monitor bone density looking for osteoporosis begin. This is the top of the pyramid, so to speak, as all of the other things we taught the little ones in the very beginning of life are the base.
Preventative medicine expands throughout the lifespan from infancy to the elderly. There are many areas of prevention that I have not covered in this short article, so it is vital to have an appointment scheduled with your primary care provider or family physician. Your health truly is your wealth. Making routine visits with your primary care provider when you are healthy could prevent you from a long-term chronic illness in the future.